Green eggs and ham may not have been on the lunch menu, but children who gathered for a Dr. Seuss-themed reading in Lafayette on Saturday were nonetheless delighted and amused to hear stories about “The Cat in the Hat,” his mischief-making sidekicks “Thing One” and “Thing Two” and other strange tales.
The children at the South Regional Library were celebrating “Read Across Louisiana Day” only days before the birthday of the famed author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, who was born March 2, 1904.
Presented by the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators and Louisiana Association of Educators, the event is part of what has become a national movement to instill an appreciation for books in children ages 2 to 12.
“The love of reading isn’t as strong as it used to be,” said Kay Hobbs, a special education teacher at Acadiana High School and a member of LPAE. “With the amount of TVs and video games out there, kids aren’t spending enough time reading words as they are watching things.”
She said the people who came to read to the children “are showing a love of reading so that, hopefully, the kids will be inspired to pick it up.”
Special guests, including City-Parish President Joey Durel, interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune and KATC-TV’s Steven Albritton, visited both the South and the North Regional Public libraries to read some of Seuss’ most popular stories to the children.
Durel delivered an enthusiastic version of “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” to a crowd of eager young readers, while Albritton teamed up with Bradley Cruice, the health and wellness director for Lafayette Parish, and recited the memorable words to “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!”
Volunteers helped further immerse the children in Seuss’ imaginative worlds with a craft area, where they were encouraged to create their own truffala trees found in “The Lorax,” construct their own “Cat in the Hat”-inspired crowns and spend time coloring some of the most popular books’ characters.
“Coming here and doing something like this is such a good thing because it helps show the children what reading is all about,” said Jana Mallery, whose grandson, Isaiah Joseph, 8, received a “Cars” book in the event’s raffle.
Joseph, already an enthusiastic reader, said his favorite part about reading is simply seeing how stories turn out.
Louisiana’s literacy rate of 24 percent continues to come in below the national average rate of 29 percent.
“To engage kids — the younger they are — in reading means the better the future will be,” said Shane Riddle, legislative political director for the Louisiana Association of Educators. “They are going to be more engaged in the classroom, read more books, so it’s very important. Louisiana needs a lot more programs like this that promote the idea of reading to the children.”
Riddle said his wife, Suzette, a librarian at Indian Bayou Elementary and a member of LAE, promotes “Read Across America” at the school each year.